How Top Leaders Create Great Customer Experiences
I was chatting with a group of business owners the other evening on the topic of social media and its impact on what they do.
“On the one hand, one happy customer can write something on Facebook and bring a whole rush of customers to your door. But one dissatisfied one can take to all the social media sites and ruin you. No other generation of businesses have had to deal with something like this,” one entrepreneur lamented. “I’d like to respond to them, but then all the cranky customers will hound me and expect a personal response too, and where will that take me?”
Whenever I hear that kind of question, I remember a story I read about Shep Hyken, now a well-known service engagement guru who teaches people how to create loyal customers and spread trust about their companies. He actually calls himself a CAO in his firm, Shephard Presentations, by which he means Chief Amazement Officer.
The story I love goes back to his college days when he was working at a neighborhood service station, long before he built his vibrant speaking and coaching business. This is the story:
“One very, very cold day…a woman got out of the car to pump gas, an elderly woman. I went out and pumped her gas for her. My manager got upset with me for pumping this lady’s gas. He says, ‘we’re a self-serve station’ and I thought, well, you know, ‘but she could have died, slipped on a piece of ice. I mean, she looked frail.’ So I helped her and he says, “What is she going to do the next time? She’s going to expect the same thing.’ And I said, ‘well, that’s fine because there’s three other stations, one on each of the corners (of) the intersection, and I think that I’d love her to come back and always do business with us’.”
Hyken’s point is that it is okay to build your customer’s expectations that they will receive extraordinary service and care from you. Let them trust that you will treat them better than any of your competitors.
Pointing out that most businesses cannot compete on price alone, Hyken notes that customer service is what matters most, and that is more important than ever because of the way mass access to social media has changed our world.
It is true that customers have a lot to say about your businesses these days. But instead of complaining about this turn of events, we can use it to inspire us to do better and raise the bar on what we consider to be excellence in customer service.
What should you do with your social media fans and critics?
You should respond.
You should respond to every single post, even if you don’t want to.
Social media is a conversation. If someone starts to talk to you and you don’t respond, you are rude and the rest of the readers connected to that person are going to see that you are rude.
Dealing with haters and critics wasn’t just invented with Facebook.
In David McRaney’s book You Are Now Less Dumb he recounts how a young Benjamin Franklin was seeking his second term as a clerk when a peer delivered a scathing election speech tarnishing Franklin’s reputation.
Franklin did manage to win the election, but he was angry with his critic. But he was smart enough to know that a critic unchanged remains a critic forever, whereas a critic turned fan could be a powerful force.
Franklin did not want to cozy up to his critic and deliver false praise. But Franklin had a distinguished reputation for being a book collector and library founder and a man of excellent literary tastes.
So Franklin sent his critic a letter asking if he could borrow a specific selection from his library, “a very scarce and curious book.” The critic, flattered that he possessed a book that a man of Franklin’s learning would find interesting, obliged.
A week later Franklin sent his critic a letter thanking him.
When the Legislature opened the next session, the man approach Franklin and spoke to him in person as a respected colleague. The two ended up forming a life-long friendship.
Thanks to the immediacy of social media, we don’t have to wait several weeks to still the waters of our critics and start to bring them onto our side as friends.
We can tackle our critics, case by case, and consider what it would take to turn them into friends.
What we can’t do is ignore them.
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s best selling books: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and due to be released December 6th “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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